An Evaluation of the Impact of PCAN-supported Climate Commissions: Call for proposals



The Place-based Climate Action Network (PCAN) is an ESRC-supported Network Plus, which brings together the research community and decision makers in the public, private and third sectors. 

The objective of PCAN is to translate climate research and policy into action “on the ground” in our communities. The Network started in January 2019 and will run initially for five years.

PCAN builds on the policy connections, networking capacity and research strengths of its host institutions: the London School of Economics and Political Science, Queen’s University Belfast and the Universities of Edinburgh, Oxford and Leeds. A core part of PCAN’s activities are three city-based Climate Commissions in Belfast, Edinburgh and Leeds. The Leeds Commission pre-dates PCAN and serves as an example for the kind of participatory, place-based climate governance that PCAN studies and supports. The Belfast and Edinburgh Commissions were set up as part of PCAN. All three Commissions are independent, but supported by PCAN.

Inspired in part by PCAN, similar institutions have been established in several other UK cities, districts and regions. PCAN supports these initiatives through the PCAN Network Plus, a knowledge-sharing platform that now includes over a dozen place-based commissions or similar institutions, in addition to the three core Commissions.

PCAN is inviting proposals to evaluate the impact of the Belfast, Edinburgh and Leeds Commissions so far, the role they are playing in the climate activities of their respective cities, and the extent to which they provide a replicable model for place-based climate governance.

Scope of work

The proposed evaluation will provide an early assessment of the PCAN Commissions in Belfast, Edinburgh and Leeds. We are interested principally in their impact on local debates and on climate action in the three cities. This includes insights on:

  •  where the Commissions sit in the local climate policy landscape (e.g. relative to other institutions) and how they are perceived by stakeholders;
  •  the specific functions played by the Commissions (e.g. as a knowledge broker, policy innovator, consensus builder, etc.);
  •  types of capacity building enabled by the Commissions;
  • concrete areas of success and how these are evidenced;
  • areas of contention /difficulties;
  • the ability of the Commissions to facilitate not just dialogue but concrete climate (mitigation and/or adaptation) action;
  • how insights from each Commission could help build a replicable model.

We invite interested consultants to suggest their own preferred method for structuring the evaluation and collecting the relevant information (e.g., interviews, focus groups, surveys, document analysis, etc.).

Proposals should be specific about the number and types of stakeholder interactions that are planned and what resources the successful consultant will require from the PCAN team.

All three Commissions must be covered in sufficient depth to comment meaningfully on their impact, but the evaluation approach need not be the same in all three.

The study complements longer term academic research into the creation, operation and political economy of climate commissions. While the focus here should specifically be on impact, synergies with this broader research agenda may be explored.


The study will be overseen by Candice Howarth (LSE) with support from the PCAN team at LSE (Harriet Carter, Jo Miller), who will arrange regular (e.g. monthly) meetings with the consultants.

The consultants will work closely with the PCAN teams in Belfast (led by John Barry), Edinburgh (led by Jamie Brogan) and Leeds (led by Andy Gouldson). The local PCAN teams will be available to facilitate access to stakeholders as necessary.

Guidance and quality assurance will be provided by an advisory group consisting of PCAN Co-Investigators.


The findings of the evaluation should be written up in a concise report suitable for publication on the PCAN website. There is no page limit, but the report should be as succinct as possible. It should contain overarching insights as well as findings specific to each Commission.

The primary audience for the report are the PCAN team, Commission members and Commission stakeholders, who are interested in the effectiveness and further development of the Commissions.

The consultants should be available for (virtual) presentations of their findings to PCAN and, if requested, the three Commissions. The slides used should be made available to PCAN.

Subsequent use of the material in academic analysis or publications is a possibility. All data collected during the evaluation (e.g. interview transcripts) will have to be archived in line with UKRI policy.


We anticipate the work to be carried out according to the following timetable (subject to potential COVID-19 restrictions):

Submission of Proposals: 7 February 2022

Award of contract: 28 February 2022

Start of work: 1 April 2022

Conclusion of work: December 2022 (or as agreed).

Budget and contract

The maximum budget available for the study is GBP 28,000, including VAT. Contracting will be with the London School of Economics.

Selection criteria

Proposals will be evaluated by a panel of PCAN investigators based on the submitted material. There will be no interviews.

The evaluation will be based in the following criteria: quality of the proposal; understanding of the role of local climate commissions; experience with similar assignments; strength of the team; value for money.

How to submit

Short proposals (ca 5-10 pages, excluding annexes) should be submitted to by 5pm GMT on 7 February 2022.

The proposal should include:

  • a detailed description of the proposed evaluation method and plan of work, including a suggested timeline;
  • a synopsis of prior experience with related assignments;
  • a budget, broken down by the main cost categories (staff time and day rates, travel, other expenses);
  • two-page CVs of the principal team members (annexed).

Any further queries should be directed to